Posts tagged 1868
Archimandrite Stephen Andreades was the first priest of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in New Orleans. He arrived in late 1867, making him the very first resident Orthodox priest in the contiguous United States. Very little is known about Andreades, and most of what we know comes from a short homily he gave upon his arrival. The homily was published in the March 15, 1868 issue of the Alaska Herald (vol. 1, issue 2), a periodical published by the infamous Agapius Honcharenko.
Until recently, I had seen references to that homily, but I had never gotten my hands on the text itself. But a couple of months ago, Maggie Maag, who heads up the great historical work being done at Holy Trinity in New Orleans, sent me a copy. The homily was originally given in Greek, but it was translated into Russian for the Alaska Herald. Maggie found the Alaska Herald issue at the Library of Congress, and she arranged for Roman Alokhin of the New Orleans Museum of Art to translate it from Russian into English. I ran the translation past a Russian translator friend of mine, who made some minor edits. The result is below.
The homily is dated December 25, 1867. I suspect that’s the Julian (Old) Calendar date, so it would have been January 6, 1868 according to the Gregorian Calendar used in America. The original translation from Greek to Russian was done by a man named Thomas Kraskovsky, about whom we know nothing. Here’s the whole thing, followed by my own comments:
I see with which Heavenly glory the hearts of Orthodox Christians of the Eastern Church are filled, because of the establishment of the first Orthodox Church in the New World.
In the name of this blessed event, let’s exalt our hearts to God and thank Him for raising this church in the land of freedom, equality, enlightenment and humanity.
Here, the notion of the history of Christianity gives an acknowledgement that our Church is the only true and unshakable church. As the mother of other churches that enlightened the universe with Godly and human law is understood by those, who did not spare means, when our church in the east was subject to danger, they (Christians of Holy Trinity church) regardless of payoff decided: what to Greece is not given, is subsequently (after all) given to it (to this church).
The erection of this Orthodox Church is a great jubilation of Orthodoxy, Christian strength and virtue, it increases the magnificence of our church crown. You, coming here from so far away for trading business and for improving your fate, did not forget your motherland and your protectress Orthodox Church. You understood that God’s temple is a union of devout and illuminated by the heavenly truth society, that entering the temple as if into a place of unseen God, we strengthen our faith, receive light from the sky, receive holy mysteries and while reading the holy gospel we hear the voice of almighty God.
Such feelings of Christian love prompted you to build this delightful temple, where you invited me from Greece to conduct this first Godly Liturgy.
Rejoice with me, Orthodox Christians, and receive my heartfelt spiritual blessing. Blessed and glorified the name of God, who granted me to conduct a spiritual service in this new church, and I beg Him for help in my task. The permanent duty of my service in this church will be: to keep the commandments of God and to comply with church bylaws. To conscientiously perform the holy mysteries, as the source of immortality, so as our life is not deprived of God’s grace.
My children! Have faith with virtue and virtue with reasonableness. Accustom to sobriety, be pious and patient, love each other as this is the source and root of all goodness and foundation of Christian morals. Respect your parents and older people, equally respect property and rights of your neighbors. These qualities make humanity great, produce kind citizens, well-doers/benefactors and great people.
Holy Trinity! Infinite mercy, inconceivable light, illuminating anyone coming to you, we beg you, remain amidst your children and honor us with your grace. Illuminate us the sinful and give us the strength to praise your beneficence and dominion. Guard this new church and protect it against all dangers. Shelter the flock and the shepherd, turn away bad intentions of invisible enemies, accompany to the jubilation of Orthodoxy. Strengthen us in our reasonableness and sustain in all undertakings – Amen.
The part about Andreades coming from Greece is the one thing I had seen before. The homily makes it sound like the church building was recently constructed, which fits with my impressions from other sources. The June 13, 1867 issue of the New Orleans Times reported that the New Orleans Board of Aldermen adopted the following resolution:
Resolved, That the Surveyor be and he is hereby instructed to cause to be constructed a wooden sidewalk, 250 feet long and 2 feet wide, and a wooden crossing 42 feet long by 4 feet wide, opposite the Greek Trinity Church, on Dorgenois street, between Barracks and Hospital streets.
So obviously, by June, there was a church building — which means that the church building preceded the priest by at least six months.
This is just one of the many, many fascinating discoveries that they are making in New Orleans. The historical work being done by that community, and spearheaded by Maggie Maag, is really tremendous. We’ll have much more on that work in the future.
After the death of St. Philaret Drozdov, St. Innocent, the former missionary to Alaska and Siberia, was chosen to be his replacement as Metropolitan of Moscow. Below is his first pastoral address as Metropolitan, given in Moscow’s Dormition (Assumption) Cathedral on May 26, 1868 — 142 years ago today. The address was printed in the English-language Orthodox Catholic Review (Vol. 2, 1868, edited by the English convert J.J. Overbeck).
“Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Thus the Apostles were accustomed, according to the commandment of the Lord, to greet the Churches, and thus also the pastors of the Church following their example greeted their flocks, when entering into spiritual communion with them. By the same law, I also, their most unworthy successor, am emboldened to greet you with these very same words, my brethren, and henceforward beloved brethren and children in the Lord, entering as I am into communion with you.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
But who am I daring to take upon myself the voice and authority of my predecessors?
A disciple of a distant age, of a distant region, and one who has passed more than half his life in a still more distant land; one, but a humble labourer on a small field of Christ’s; a teacher of infants in faith. And is it for the least of labourers to become a labourer in a great, glorious and ancient vineyard of Christ? Is it for such a teacher to instruct a fold which sends teachers and instruction, ay, teachers of teachers, to all the ends of Russia?
True it is, that I might well say the same in every other place, to which I might have been called; — but the gravity of the question is enhanced in this case by the fact – after whom I am placed here? Who was my predecessor and who am I? No comparison can be made here. Or every comparison will be far from advantageous to me, in some respects against me. I understood all the weight and sadness, bitterness of such comparisons – natural, unavoidable, most just comparisons; they are not idle talk. I understood also how elevated, how difficult are the duties of this position, and it behoves me consequently to decline, at least I might have declined this honour, having besides a visible motive for doing so. But who am I to oppose God – our Heavenly Father, without whose will not even a hair of our head may fall? Who am I to contradict the earthly king whose heart is in the hand of God? Nay, I said to myself: let what the Lord wills be with me: I will go whither I am ordered. And lo! I am come.
Bless me then, O Lord, to enter upon my work. Lord, I am Thine, and I will be Thine for ever and everywhere; do Thou with me as Thou willest in this life and in the life to come, that I may become here but a simple instrument in Thy hands!
O most holy Lady, Mother of God, my aid, — do not deprive me here of Thy help, protection, intercession and prayers. Ye Saints of Christ, Peter, Alexis, Jonas, and Philip, and all ye Saints resting here receive me into your prayers – me, your most unworthy successor. Brethren and fathers! Most especially you, illustrious teachers and fathers. It was not such an unlettered Archpriest it behoved you to have. But bear with me in Christ’s love, — receive me into your family prayers, more especially pray, that false doctrine and carnal wisdom may not creep into the midst of Orthodoxy, on account of my ignorance. … I pray ye all, brethren and children, pray for me, a sinner. “Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
St. Innocent served as Metropolitan of Moscow from 1868 until his death in 1879.
A few weeks ago, I did a podcast on the apparent murder of Fr. Paul Kedrolivansky, dean of the San Francisco Russian cathedral. At the time, I wasn’t aware of any surviving images of Kedrolivansky. Recently, however, I discovered the above photo, in the wonderful Alaska’s Digital Archives. It was taken in 1868, prior to Kedrolivansky’s appointment as dean of the San Francisco cathedral, and a decade before his death.
Kedrolivansky is on the left, with Bp Paul Popov in the center and a hieromonk named “Fr. Feopl” on the right. I don’t know anything about Fr. Feopl, aside from the fact that he’s listed as being a “missionary to Nusagak,” that is, Nushagak, in Alaska.
Bp Paul was the last vicar bishop of Novoarkangelsk (Sitka). He served under the bishop of Irkutsk, in Siberia. In 1870, the Russian Church reorganized its North American territory, creating a new diocese especially for Alaska. Bp Paul was recalled to Russia and replaced with Bp John Mitropolsky. And while Bp John technically held the title, “Bishop of the Aleutian Islands and Alaska,” he lived in San Francisco.
From another source, I also found some more biographical information about Fr. Paul Kedrolivansky. The 1990 book Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary, by Richard A. Pierce, includes the following entry:
Kedrolivanskii, Pavel I. (1834?-1878), priest, born about 1834, the son of a deacon. The family name is said to have originated when his father, a seafarer, saw the cedars of Lebanon and said “I henceforth change my name to Kedro-Livanskii [cedars of Lebanon]”. In 1856, he graduated with honors from Riazan seminary, and then taught school in Russia. In 1858 he was ordained as a priest and assigned to Iakutsk. In 1862 he was rewarded with epigonation, and in 1863 ordered to Sitka and raised to the rank of Dean of the American churches.
I never would have guessed that his surname was a reference to the cedars of Lebanon! What this biographical entry doesn’t tell us is the rest of the story — that Kedrolivansky moved to San Francisco with the new Bp John Mitropolsky in 1870, and that he died in 1878, at the age of about 44.
A month ago, I did a podcast and wrote an article about the first two American Orthodox convert priests, James Chrystal and Nicholas Bjerring. Today, I’m publishing a brief biography I wrote on Chrystal (and which I adapted for use in the podcast).
James Chrystal was born in 1831, ordained an Episcopal deacon in 1859 and a priest shortly thereafter. In 1861, he published a book called A History of the Modes of Christian Baptism. In the Preface, Chrystal himself described the book as “an apology for the belief of the early Church, that Christ enjoined triune immersion.” Chrystal argued that sprinkling – the form of baptism practiced by both Roman Catholics and Anglicans – was insufficient and contrary to Christ’s teaching. The Orthodox Church, he concluded, had alone preserved the correct practice.
Naturally, Chrystal wanted to get one of these authentic baptisms for himself. So at the end of 1868 he traveled to Greece, where he sought out Archbishop Alexander of Syra. The Archbishop examined Chrystal and was impressed with his learning and his sincerity. A local Greek newspaper commented, “He has acquired such accuracy concerning the theoretical parts of theology, as few of the clergy and theologians among us possess.” Satisfied with Chrystal’s Orthodoxy, the Archbishop baptized him on the eve of Theophany “after the evening service, at about 5 P.M., in the Holy Temple of the Transfiguration, Mr. K.G. Drakopoulos, the Nomarch of the Cyclades, standing as his godfather.” Chrystal, being unmarried, had to obtain permission from the Holy Synod of Greece to be ordained. The Synod gave it, and within a few months Chrystal was ordained and then elevated to archimandrite.
The English Orthodox journal Orthodox Catholic Review (Dec/Jan 1868) noted that Chrystal “had for six years studied the Orthodox faith, and was fully convinced that it was the only true Catholic religion. The neophyte recited the Creed both in Greek and English. He intends entering the ministry of the Church, and will in due time become Bishop in Alaska, lately ceded by Russia to the United States. He is anxious to become a lawful medium between the Reunionist party of the Anglo-American Church and the Orthodox Church; and the Greek ecclesiastical authorities hailed his scheme. He is now busy in translating the necessary service-books into English.”
The Greek newspaper quoted earlier opined, “We [...] do not hesitate to believe, that the spread of Orthodox teaching being commenced in those places, we shall in a short time see formed there an Orthodox Church of many thousands, and the light of the East shining bright and clear even in that new world.” It then exclaimed, “What glory then will it be for the Greek Church and for our nation, if by means of this her learned priest she should send out first the shining lamp of Orthodoxy.”
Jonas King, a Protestant missionary in Greece, translated the Greek newspaper article for a Protestant journal in the United States (New York Evangelist, 4/8/1869). In conclusion, he commented sarcastically, “It may be well, perhaps, to give publicity to this novel transaction, so that the people beyond the wide Atlantic may be prepared to see the light, which, it is supposed, will soon break in upon them from the East.”
No such light would come from the East, at least not as a result of Chrystal’s conversion. See, James Chrystal had his own interpretation of Christianity. Fr. David Abramtsov explains, “The erratic Chrystal soon repudiated his ties with the Orthodox Church and, upon his return to America, formed his own Baptist-type sect.” Insofar as the Orthodox Church agreed with him – namely, in baptism – he wanted to be a part of it. But that fact was soon superseded by another. Just a year later, we find the following report: “Mr. Christal [sic] [...] could not subscribe to the articles of the Seventh Synod of the Greek church, relating to the images and creature worship.”
So James Chrystal could not accept the veneration of icons. He was hardly alone among Protestants. What escapes me is how he could have somehow not noticed them covering the walls of the cathedral in which he was baptized and ordained. Did he simply not look up? Was he – clearly a learned man, who had studied Orthodoxy for half a dozen years – unaware of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, or the Protestant objections to icons? Or did his views toward icons change in a matter of months?
In any event, it took the Orthodox some time to figure out that Chrystal was no longer himself Orthodox. In 1870, there were various reports that the Russian government planned to assign a bishop to New York and offered the job to Chrystal. He declined, citing his opposition to icons. Only a few months later, Fr. Nicholas Bjerring opened the doors of Holy Trinity Chapel in New York City.
As for Chrystal, he initially rejoined the Episcopal Church, but it wasn’t long before he was on the move again. In his own words, he left from the Episcopal Church “on account of unchecked and unpunished idolatry and service of creatures in it contrary to the faith of its reformers of blessed memory.” He continued his opposition to icons for the rest of his life. In an 1899 letter to the editor of the New York Times, Chrystal argued against the practice of kissing the Bible. He went on to publish a series of books on the Third Ecumenical Council, which he claimed supported his iconoclastic position. His argument, which he also made in his letter to the Times, was basically that since the Council condemned the division of Christ into two persons, divine and human, and thus condemned the worship of merely Christ’s humanity (rather than the single divine-human person of Christ), it implicitly forbade the veneration of any and all matter. Of this series, The Third World Council, Chrystal dedicated the second volume to the “Greek race” and the third to the “Russian people,” in both cases exhorting them to reject the Seventh Ecumenical Council and return, so said Chrystal, to true orthodoxy.
James Chrystal died in 1908 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was 77.
ONE OTHER THING: Chrystal – who, to my knowledge, never married – donated his personal papers to the New York Public Library upon his death. They’re still there, apparently available for researchers.
From the Congregationalist and Boston Recorder, January 16, 1868:
Many will remember that, some two years ago, a famous service was held in Trinity Chapel, New York city, in which, with a great flourish of trumpets, one “Father Agapius,” who purported to be a Priest of the Greek church, celebrated “the Sacrifice of the Mass” in the Greek tongue; to the great delectation of the High Churchmen, who enjoyed the show intensely, and who feld that they were coming very near, in this performance, to the real thing. Great was the glorification which was made over this manifestation of the “Orthodox Catholic Church.” Father Agapius had the genuine Apostolical succession, and it was a blessed symbol that he should condescend to hold his gorgeous Greek service in an American Episcopal church! Father Agapius, however, soon after mysteriously disappeared. It was darkly hinted, after a time, that he was — tell it not in Gath — a swindler and a cheat; and, most mournful of all, a mere mechanic and prosaic printer. Father Agapius has turned up again, however — this time in the Methodist connection. The Pacific Churchman of San Francisco, Cal., of 28th Nov. last, contains the following advertisement:
“Russo-Greek Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Agapius Honcharenko, Pastor. Preaching every Sabbath morning at 9 o’clock in the Vestry of the Howard Street M.E. Church. Services conducted in the Slavonian, Russian and Greek languages. All are invited.”
We hope there is no irreverence in the suggestion; but wouldn’t it be well to have Trinity Chapel disinfected?
And here is the original article in the Pacific Churchman, to which the above article refers:
FATHER AGAPIUS – Some of our readers may recall the name of this individual, who, about two years ago, appeared in New York, claiming to be a priest of the Greek Church. At first his pretensions were received by some of the clergy, and a Greek service was arranged for him. Immediately afterwards, however, he disappeared, and, we believe, subsided into his original employment, which was that of a printer. Since then nothing has been heard of him, until about a fortnight since, when he appeared in this city [San Francisco] as – to copy his card – a member of the “Orthodox Catholic Church.” We find, however, from the following advertisement that he has now transferred his valuable talents to our Methodist brethren:
“Russo-Greek Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Agapius Honcharenko, Pastor. Preaching every Sabbath morning at 9 o’clock in the Vestry of the Howard street M.E. Church. Services conducted in the Slavonian, Russian and Greek languages. All are invited.”
As the members of the Greek Church (if there are any here) cannot recognize him, and American Methodists cannot understand “Services in the Slavonian, Russian and Greek languages,” we think his chance is a small one of founding a sect with the “stunning” name of the “Russo-Greek Methodist Episcopal Church.”
As it happened, there were indeed Orthodox Christians living in San Francisco in 1867. They were grouped into two societies — the Russian Slavonian Benevolent Society and the Greek-Russian Slavonian Orthodox Eastern Church and Benevolent Society. Just a couple weeks after the above article ran, the two societies merged, and the Russian and Pan-Slavonic Benevolent Society was incorporated. The Orthodox in San Francisco had initially attended some of Honcharenko’s church services. In a letter in 1868, Prince Dimitry Makutsov (acting director of the Russian American Company) wrote, “Last year Agapius Honcharenko arrived in S.-Francisco, who escaped from a certain monastery. At the beginning, he was conducting divine services here, but, since he is not following the precise rules of our Church, all those who share our faith left him and renounced him as a schismatic.” The realization that Honcharenko was a fraud appears to have been part of the impetus for the San Francisco Orthodox community to form a parish.
One of the immediate goals of the society was to build an Orthodox church. In March of 1868, they sent a petition to Bishop Paul in Alaska, asking that he send Fr. Nicholas Kovrigin to San Francisco. The bishop granted the society’s request, and Kovrigin was in San Francisco in time for Holy Week. This was the first formal Russian parish in the contiguous United States, and Kovrigin was the first resident parish priest.
 The Congregationalist and Boston Recorder (January 16, 1868), 20.
 “Father Agapius,” San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin (reprinted from the Pacific Churchman, November 30, 1867).
 “Russian Benevolent Society,” San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin (December 27, 1867).
 Prince D. Makutsov to Bishop Paul (March 1868). Published at Holy Trinity Cathedral (OCA), http://www.holy-trinity.org/history/1868/03.00.Maksutov-Paul.html.